Horror infuses itself in the name of this director. Rob Zombie. The irony of a man with the surname “Zombie” taking on a series of films that feels as braindead and aimless as a marching member of the undead is not lost on this soft reboot of Halloween. It certainly needed one. A genuine desire to return to the roots of the series. But what were those roots? They are so entangled in the various experiments found in previous instalments, and most of those were filled with dense choices, erratic characters and awful writing. Zombie offers that trilogy of doubt and more with his rendition of Halloween.
His interpretation of the series is that there was not enough guts, gore and gratuity to sell it to a wider audience. The slow-burning effects of the original are not enough for the audiences of today. They wish to be prodded and provoked, or at least that is what Zombie believes. Credit where it is due, he sticks to his guns, but his guns are faulty. As the classic, high-pitched whines of that phenomenal original song come into play, the problem is not the utilisation but the effectiveness. When so long is spent on the backstory of Michael Myers and his foray into murder, audiences do not get a feel for the erraticism of the original. Instead, they are treated to a weak gambit of record-scratch moments, overly sexualised characters and the occasionally awkward Dutch angle.
Audiences will at least get a dose of Zombie’s style. Heavy rock soundtracks, a sense of disgust in the surroundings of intensely strange characters. His characters are violent and uninteresting. It makes it hard to root for them, and instead, we must hope and pray Myers puts an end to them. Screeching and cursing, there is no love to have for these characters. Degeneracy is explored as nothing more than conflict. A peek into the backstory of Myers does craft a bit more dependency than Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers ever could, but the effect is still the same. Minimal at best, and at worst, the emotional angle for Myers has flubbed once again.
Zombie’s horror comes not from the slasher elements of the classic entries before it, but from a redneck approach. Heavy bouts of sex and heavy-handed messaging. Don’t Fear the Reaper plays out as the embodiment of that eponymous demon approach. Cute. Stupid, too. Zombie relies on big moments, bad twists and gory scenes to cover up the narrative nonsense. His kills are not creative or built up well, but they are bloody and batter through the origin story stylings of this feature. Zombie is ambitious, there is no denying that. His desire to create a backstory for the terror Myers inspires in Haddonfield changes all the wrong elements. The happenstance battle between Laurie Strode and Myers is the great and varied aspect that Zombie gets so wrong, but at least his efforts are a stretch better than the druid-based, emotionally wrought nonsense that came before it.